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19 Mar 2018 10:11
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  •   Home > News > Politics

    Peters linked to North Korea initiative

    Winston Peters' secret meetings with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have raised speculation that the foreign minister is part of a North Korean initiative.

    Foreign Minister Winston Peters' secret meetings with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have raised speculation that New Zealand could be part of a regional diplomatic initiative involving North Korea.

    It's also being suggested their talks could have been about Myanmar where the crisis around the persecuted Rohingya people is worsening.

    Mr Peters visited North Korea when he was foreign minister in 2007 in a failed attempt to persuade it to give up its nuclear development programme.

    There's speculation he could be going there again, this time as a representative of the US and other western governments.

    There has been no confirmation of that.

    The meetings took place at the APEC summit in Vietnam over the weekend and at the East Asia Summit in the Philippines on Tuesday, where Mr Peters was accompanying Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

    Mr Tillerson sought the last meeting with Mr Peters.

    Neither Mr Peters nor Ms Ardern would give any details to the New Zealand media.

    "It's to do with the region and initiatives coming in the future... but it would be remiss of me to divulge what it was about," Mr Peters said.

    The meetings have been linked to a tweet from US President Donald Trump - who also attended APEC and the EAS - that he would be making an important announcement when he got back to Washington.

    Ms Ardern confirmed Mr Peters had briefed her on his meetings but she wouldn't give anything away when asked if Mr Tillerson's urgent need for a second bilateral meeting had anything to do with North Korea.

    "As the minister of foreign affairs has said, when we're in a position to do so we'll share the details of what we've discussed," she said.

    Mr Peters, who is on his way home with Ms Ardern, issued a statement on Wednesday saying he had formal meetings with foreign ministers from 11 countries, including the US.

    "The visit allowed me to participate in discussions on the big issues facing the Asia-Pacific region, including the threat posed by North Korea's actions, the territorial dispute in the South China Sea, the challenge of countering terrorism in South East Asia, and the conflict and resulting humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine State," he said.

    © 2018 NZN, NZCity

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